ScotsSkier

USSA Coach
Industry Insider
Pugski Ski Tester
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
2,323
Location
North Lake Tahoe, NV
Slalom (Lite) Skis
Ok, ding ding! Seconds out! Here we go with Round 2 of the race ski cage match ... and here is where it may get a bit more subjective or, as some of you may prefer to call it, opinionated!
Petersen - Slalom ScotsSkier 72dpi.jpg
A little history first. Back in the "olden days," a slalom ski was not really that much different from a GS ski. It might have been a bit shorter (typically 203 vs 207-210), a bit stiffer in the tip, and a bit softer in the tail. The radius may have been slightly smaller, but since in the dark ages none of us really had a clue about ski radius, we may be talking something like 60 v 70m! A slalom ski then made perfect sense for a lot of people as an everyday ski. Indeed, in certain cases some slalom skis -- I cite as evidence the original "chicken heart" Dynastar Course slalom -- were actually better in powder and soft snow than their GS siblings. And yes, I do still from time to time get new racers coming to me for advice, telling me they used to race slalom on a 200-something ski so they are thinking about getting a new one in 180ish. Oh dear!

Well, today's slalom skis are not your father's slalom skis. So, what are they? What options are available? And who are they for?

First, let us totally dispel one of the biggest "fake news" responses often seen on the interwebz, provided in response to the question, "I am thinking about a slalom ski to make short-radius turns on hard Eastern slopes; what should I consider?” If you see a response suggesting an 85+mm-wide ski, RUN! DO NOT WALK! away because it is sure-fire evidence that the respondent cannot even spell slalom, let alone has any experience skiing one. Such a ski bears no resemblance at all to a slalom ski, even if it does have a small radius.

So, what is my definition of a race slalom ski (for adults)? It has a length from 155 to 165 and a waist width less than
66 mm. Okay, okay, some of you smarta**es have already jumped ahead to look at the skis examined here and are waving your hands in the air, "He doesn't know what he's talking about, most of the skis listed here come in lengths longer than 165 -- and they are all wider than 66 mm."

Well, not so fast. There are really only two types of slalom skis:
  • FIS/race stock slalom skis (you know, the ones that will kill mere mortals if you simply look at them the wrong way), and
  • "Slalom-lite" skis.
Here we will look at slalom-lite skis. As a genre, these may have graphics and names that are similar to the race slaloms (which can lead to understandable confusion) and they share many characteristics.
  • They often come in lengths up to 170.
  • Bindings and plates may bear some resemblance to the manufacturer's race slalom but are more likely to be integrated with the ski.
  • Waist widths may be at or approaching 70 mm at the reference 165 length.
  • Radius is typically less than the 13ish radius more commonly found on the FIS race ski.
  • The shovels are a bit wider.
  • They are a bit slower in response than the race version (which can also translate to being more user-friendly for some skiers).
Now, some of you may be wondering why I have not called them "cheaters." Ah, good question! This is not an oversight; it is a feature. ogsmile We are for the most part accustomed to using the term "cheater" to designate a ski as suitable for lower-level beer league racing. So, here is where I become contentious again: if anyone is seriously intending to race slalom gates -- even on an irregular basis -- I do not recommend using these "slalom-lite" skis. There, I said it; now I wait for the indignant shouts from the peanut gallery! But, but, but ... they say "slalom" on them?? Yes, that may be the case, but these (with rare exceptions) do not have the same quality of construction, robustness, or performance as a race-stock slalom ski. They are not built for regular, or even semi-regular, use in slalom gates, despite what the promotional literature claims. They may work for the occasional foray into a Nastar stubby course, but if you have aspirations beyond that, please consider instead the race stock version (and no, they will not kill you!).

So, that being said, and before we consider individual specimens, what can we say about the slalom-lite category as a whole?

Who are they for?
Those who want a ski to:
  • Make short radius, dynamic turns on hardpack;
  • Maximize the smile factor on limited vertical /small hills;
  • Be a bit more manageable in bumps and mixed than a race-stock slalom;
  • Support skills development of fast, linked short-radius slalom-type turns;
  • Run the occasional Nastar "slalom" course;
  • Start to feel like a race ski and provide more fun and performance than a generic short-radius carver;
  • Be available in a 170 length;
  • Serve as a technical teaching ski for instructors.
Who are they not for? Those who actually want to run slalom gates on more than a very intermittent basis. Especially those who want to ski Masters slalom!

Insider tip: If you are serious about skiing slalom gates, do yourself a favor and avoid all of these. Make the investment only once and buy a real race ski. If you really can't bring yourself to do that, and still want to run gates, there are a couple here that are more suited than others. (But don't say you haven't been warned!)

Atomic Redster SL .png
Atomic Redster DoubleDeck 3.0 SL
Dimensions: scaled
Radius:
Plate: DoubleDeck 3.0
Binding (Included): Atomic X12 TL

This version of the Redster brings some of Atomic's race technology to the party. The plate is the DoubleDeck plate as on the GS skis rather than the non-DD slalom plate of the FIS skis. The integrated binding is very similar to the regular race X binding and offers some opportunity to vary the mount position. The DD plate adds to the stability of the ski at the expense of a little responsiveness, but it still has a quicker turn-in than most. As such, this ski in a 159 or 165 could potentially serve double duty for beer-league slalom racers
  • Who is it for? Those prepared to stand on and drive short-radius turns.
  • Who is it not for? Those not ready for quick edge changes.
  • Insider tip: Not a bad choice if you want to run gates occasionally but it is not your main focus.

Blizzard SRC.png
Blizzard SRC Racing
Dimensions: 121-70-106
Sizes offered: 156, 160, 165, 170
Radius: [email protected]
Plate (integrated): EVO R-CT
Binding (included): Marker X-Cell 14 Grip Walk
Nordica SLR.png
Nordica SLR EVO
Dimensions: 121-70-106
Sizes offered: 156, 160, 165, 170
Radius: [email protected]
Plate (integrated): EVO R-CT
Binding (included): Marker N-Power X-Cell EVO

Initially the Blizz/Nordi twins (the skis and the plates are the same, the binding is different) in some ways disappointed me as a fan of the brands. But then I realized that my judgment was being clouded by a lot of experience (and ownership) of the FIS versions from both brands -- skis that are pretty much at the top of my list in that category. So when I changed my focus to consider where these skis are intended to do, my views are modified. These are great skis, good examples of what they are aimed at, with lively performance and good edge grip. They just are not as quick or solid as their FIS big brothers, with some dulling of response attributable to the 70 waist. (Note: One of my athletes previously persevered with the Nordica for a season of Masters racing before he switched to a race-stock version and realized he had been handicapping himself.) But these are still very much fun, high-performing skis that will force you to up your game and could still give a decent showing in beer-league slalom.
  • Who is it for? Those looking for a robust, high-performing slalom-like ski that can be taken into gates when required.
  • Who is it not for? Those at the lighter, less-skilled end of the spectrum.
  • Insider tip: Stand on it and it will deliver!
Elan SLX.png
Elan SLX Fusion
Dimensions: scaled
Radius:
Plate: Fusion (integrated)
Binding (included): ELX 14.0 Fusion

This year the Elan has an asymmetrical profile with some tip and tail rocker. This is a double-edged sword: it makes the ski more accessible to a wider range of skiers without requiring the level of skill of some others here, but it also brings down the top end if really pushed. It fits well into what appears to be becoming Elan's niche, good-quality skis, often available at a lower price point than comparable models, which can open up a market segment to a wider skill range of skiers by dialing back the performance envelope a bit.
  • Who is it for? Someone looking to make a first purchase in the short-radius, race-like category.
  • Who is it not for? Those who want to focus their efforts on developing slalom-type skills as opposed to skiing a pleasant short-radius all-around ski.
  • Insider tip: Unless your focus is really on value, you can do better here.
Fischer RC4SC.png
Fischer RC4 Worldcup SC
Dimensions: 122-68-103
Sizes offered: 150, 155, 160, 165, 170
Radius: [email protected]
Plate: Racetrack (integrated)
Binding: Fischer Z12

The Fischer SC is, surprisingly, positioned remarkably close to the full FIS slalom ski. It displays the classic Fischer family traits: it is (relatively) stiff and powerful and is actually a bit more lively feeling (and fun) than the Fischer FIS ski. There is a reason that this ski is seen regularly on the feet of beer-league racers who don't want to go to a full race ski. Bring your A game with this one!
  • Who is it for? The beer leaguer who should be on a race-stock ski but refuses to go there.
  • Who is it not for? Lighter, less aggressive skiers.
  • Insider tip: This is the closest to a race ski in the slalom-lite category.
HEad SL iSpeed.png
Head Worldcup Rebels i.SL
Dimensions: 124-68-108
Sizes offered: 150, 155, 160, 165,170
Radius: [email protected]
Plate: EVO
Binding (optional): Freeflex EVO 14

Head brings a lot of its race heritage to the design and build of the i.SL. However, Head goes in a different direction than Fischer with this model. The i.SL is a significantly different tool than the no-holds-barred i.SL RD: softer, livelier, and more forgiving with a softer plate. Note, this does not mean it is a lesser ski, just different! While the RD is an awesome tool for attacking slalom courses, requiring a reasonable degree of skill, the i.SL has a wider, more accessible range. Despite this it could still be used in gates if you must, the 68 waist helping quick responses, but ultimately it is not as effective as its big brother when you push it.
  • Who is it for? Those who want the Head Rebels cachet but not the demands of the RD.
  • Who is it not for? Not many! This ski can support a wide range of skills without biting back.
  • Insider tip: Don't listen to those who tell you Heads are all super stiff! But also don't think this ski is a real slalom tool like the RD.
Rossi HEro ST.png
Rossignol Hero Elite ST Ti
Dimensions: 122-68-104
Sizes offered: 157, 162, 167, 172
Radius:
Plate: KONECT
Binding (included): Look SPX 12 Dual WTR KONECT

Given the quantum leaps in performance Rossignol has made in recent years, this is a rather surprising ski in that it resembles much more the Rossi of old. Noticeably softer than most of the others in this group, the Hero ST Ti, along with the Elan, is the ski I would least like to take into gates. It does however make a very useable, short-turn carver that will support those trying to build their skills but who want to get earlier access to the performance offered by this genre of ski.
  • Who is it for? Lighter or less aggressive skiers who want to finesse short-radius turns.
  • Who is it not for? Those looking for higher-end slalom performance.
  • Insider tip: Better options are out there if you don't fit the "who is it for" category.
17 Völkl Speed Uvo.png
Völkl Racetiger Speedwall SL UVO
Dimensions: scaled
Radius:
Plate: Integrated
Binding (included): rMotion2 12.0 D Race, rMotion2 16.0 D Race

The Racetiger Speedwall carries the same UVO vibration damper as its FIS brother. It has the typical Völkl lively feel and edge grip and is happy to be pushed hard by a reasonably skilled pilot. The most surprising aspect of this one is that, while it has a fairly narrow waist at 68, it feels slightly sluggish edge to edge, without the lightning fast turn-in of the FIS version. Nonetheless, this may well be a benefit for progressing skiers who are a bit leery of superfast edge switches. This also lets it be skied at higher speeds than some of the others here, which the UVO must take some credit for.
  • Who is it for? The skier who could just as easily use a race ski but thinks they are getting a bit more flexibility this way.
  • Who is it not for? The more timid skier who is not prepared to really stand on the ski.
  • Insider tip: A good choice for Völkl fans.
@Dave Petersen Artwork​
 

Philpug

Notorious P.U.G.
Admin
Pugski Ski Tester
Joined
Nov 1, 2015
Posts
25,725
Location
Reno, eNVy
Thanks @ScotsSkier for your perspective on some great technical skis.
 

Levy1

Booting up
Skier
Joined
Nov 20, 2015
Posts
137
Location
Columbus Ohio
Slalom (Lite) Skis
Ok, ding ding! Seconds out! Here we go with Round 2 of the race ski cage match ... and here is where it may get a bit more subjective or, as some of you may prefer to call it, opinionated!
A little history first. Back in the "olden days," a slalom ski was not really that much different from a GS ski. It might have been a bit shorter (typically 203 vs 207-210), a bit stiffer in the tip, and a bit softer in the tail. The radius may have been slightly smaller, but since in the dark ages none of us really had a clue about ski radius, we may be talking something like 60 v 70m! A slalom ski then made perfect sense for a lot of people as an everyday ski. Indeed, in certain cases some slalom skis -- I cite as evidence the original "chicken heart" Dynastar Course slalom -- were actually better in powder and soft snow than their GS siblings. And yes, I do still from time to time get new racers coming to me for advice, telling me they used to race slalom on a 200-something ski so they are thinking about getting a new one in 180ish. Oh dear!

Well, today's slalom skis are not your father's slalom skis. So, what are they? What options are available? And who are they for?

First, let us totally dispel one of the biggest "fake news" responses often seen on the interwebz, provided in response to the question, "I am thinking about a slalom ski to make short-radius turns on hard Eastern slopes; what should I consider?” If you see a response suggesting an 85+mm-wide ski, RUN! DO NOT WALK! away because it is sure-fire evidence that the respondent cannot even spell slalom, let alone has any experience skiing one. Such a ski bears no resemblance at all to a slalom ski, even if it does have a small radius.

So, what is my definition of a race slalom ski (for adults)? It has a length from 155 to 165 and a waist width less than
66 mm. Okay, okay, some of you smarta**es have already jumped ahead to look at the skis examined here and are waving your hands in the air, "He doesn't know what he's talking about, most of the skis listed here come in lengths longer than 165 -- and they are all wider than 66 mm."

Well, not so fast. There are really only two types of slalom skis:
  • FIS/race stock slalom skis (you know, the ones that will kill mere mortals if you simply look at them the wrong way), and
  • "Slalom-lite" skis.
Here we will look at slalom-lite skis. As a genre, these may have graphics and names that are similar to the race slaloms (which can lead to understandable confusion) and they share many characteristics.
  • They often come in lengths up to 170.
  • Bindings and plates may bear some resemblance to the manufacturer's race slalom but are more likely to be integrated with the ski.
  • Waist widths may be at or approaching 70 mm at the reference 165 length.
  • Radius is typically less than the 13ish radius more commonly found on the FIS race ski.
  • The shovels are a bit wider.
  • They are a bit slower in response than the race version (which can also translate to being more user-friendly for some skiers).
Now, some of you may be wondering why I have not called them "cheaters." Ah, good question! This is not an oversight; it is a feature. ogsmile We are for the most part accustomed to using the term "cheater" to designate a ski as suitable for lower-level beer league racing. So, here is where I become contentious again: if anyone is seriously intending to race slalom gates -- even on an irregular basis -- I do not recommend using these "slalom-lite" skis. There, I said it; now I wait for the indignant shouts from the peanut gallery! But, but, but ... they say "slalom" on them?? Yes, that may be the case, but these (with rare exceptions) do not have the same quality of construction, robustness, or performance as a race-stock slalom ski. They are not built for regular, or even semi-regular, use in slalom gates, despite what the promotional literature claims. They may work for the occasional foray into a Nastar stubby course, but if you have aspirations beyond that, please consider instead the race stock version (and no, they will not kill you!).

So, that being said, and before we consider individual specimens, what can we say about the slalom-lite category as a whole?

Who are they for?
Those who want a ski to:
  • Make short radius, dynamic turns on hardpack;
  • Maximize the smile factor on limited vertical /small hills;
  • Be a bit more manageable in bumps and mixed than a race-stock slalom;
  • Support skills development of fast, linked short-radius slalom-type turns;
  • Run the occasional Nastar "slalom" course;
  • Start to feel like a race ski and provide more fun and performance than a generic short-radius carver;
  • Be available in a 170 length;
  • Serve as a technical teaching ski for instructors.
Who are they not for? Those who actually want to run slalom gates on more than a very intermittent basis. Especially those who want to ski Masters slalom!

Insider tip: If you are serious about skiing slalom gates, do yourself a favor and avoid all of these. Make the investment only once and buy a real race ski. If you really can't bring yourself to do that, and still want to run gates, there are a couple here that are more suited than others. (But don't say you haven't been warned!)

Atomic Redster DoubleDeck 3.0 SL
Dimensions: scaled
Radius:
Plate: DoubleDeck 3.0
Binding (Included): Atomic X12 TL

This version of the Redster brings some of Atomic's race technology to the party. The plate is the DoubleDeck plate as on the GS skis rather than the non-DD slalom plate of the FIS skis. The integrated binding is very similar to the regular race X binding and offers some opportunity to vary the mount position. The DD plate adds to the stability of the ski at the expense of a little responsiveness, but it still has a quicker turn-in than most. As such, this ski in a 159 or 165 could potentially serve double duty for beer-league slalom racers
  • Who is it for? Those prepared to stand on and drive short-radius turns.
  • Who is it not for? Those not ready for quick edge changes.
  • Insider tip: Not a bad choice if you want to run gates occasionally but it is not your main focus.

Blizzard SRC Racing
Dimensions: 121-70-106
Sizes offered: 156, 160, 165, 170
Radius: [email protected]
Plate (integrated): EVO R-CT
Binding (included): Marker X-Cell 14 Grip Walk
Nordica SLR EVO
Dimensions: 121-70-106
Sizes offered: 156, 160, 165, 170
Radius: [email protected]
Plate (integrated): EVO R-CT
Binding (included): Marker N-Power X-Cell EVO

Initially the Blizz/Nordi twins (the skis and the plates are the same, the binding is different) in some ways disappointed me as a fan of the brands. But then I realized that my judgment was being clouded by a lot of experience (and ownership) of the FIS versions from both brands -- skis that are pretty much at the top of my list in that category. So when I changed my focus to consider where these skis are intended to do, my views are modified. These are great skis, good examples of what they are aimed at, with lively performance and good edge grip. They just are not as quick or solid as their FIS big brothers, with some dulling of response attributable to the 70 waist. (Note: One of my athletes previously persevered with the Nordica for a season of Masters racing before he switched to a race-stock version and realized he had been handicapping himself.) But these are still very much fun, high-performing skis that will force you to up your game and could still give a decent showing in beer-league slalom.
  • Who is it for? Those looking for a robust, high-performing slalom-like ski that can be taken into gates when required.
  • Who is it not for? Those at the lighter, less-skilled end of the spectrum.
  • Insider tip: Stand on it and it will deliver!
Elan SLX Fusion
Dimensions: scaled
Radius:
Plate: Fusion (integrated)
Binding (included): ELX 14.0 Fusion

This year the Elan has an asymmetrical profile with some tip and tail rocker. This is a double-edged sword: it makes the ski more accessible to a wider range of skiers without requiring the level of skill of some others here, but it also brings down the top end if really pushed. It fits well into what appears to be becoming Elan's niche, good-quality skis, often available at a lower price point than comparable models, which can open up a market segment to a wider skill range of skiers by dialing back the performance envelope a bit.
  • Who is it for? Someone looking to make a first purchase in the short-radius, race-like category.
  • Who is it not for? Those who want to focus their efforts on developing slalom-type skills as opposed to skiing a pleasant short-radius all-around ski.
  • Insider tip: Unless your focus is really on value, you can do better here.
Fischer RC4 Worldcup SC
Dimensions: 122-68-103
Sizes offered: 150, 155, 160, 165, 170
Radius: [email protected]
Plate: Racetrack (integrated)
Binding: Fischer Z12

The Fischer SC is, surprisingly, positioned remarkably close to the full FIS slalom ski. It displays the classic Fischer family traits: it is (relatively) stiff and powerful and is actually a bit more lively feeling (and fun) than the Fischer FIS ski. There is a reason that this ski is seen regularly on the feet of beer-league racers who don't want to go to a full race ski. Bring your A game with this one!
  • Who is it for? The beer leaguer who should be on a race-stock ski but refuses to go there.
  • Who is it not for? Lighter, less aggressive skiers.
  • Insider tip: This is the closest to a race ski in the slalom-lite category.
Head Worldcup Rebels i.SL
Dimensions: 124-68-108
Sizes offered: 150, 155, 160, 165,170
Radius: [email protected]
Plate: EVO
Binding (optional): Freeflex EVO 14

Head brings a lot of its race heritage to the design and build of the i.SL. However, Head goes in a different direction than Fischer with this model. The i.SL is a significantly different tool than the no-holds-barred i.SL RD: softer, livelier, and more forgiving with a softer plate. Note, this does not mean it is a lesser ski, just different! While the RD is an awesome tool for attacking slalom courses, requiring a reasonable degree of skill, the i.SL has a wider, more accessible range. Despite this it could still be used in gates if you must, the 68 waist helping quick responses, but ultimately it is not as effective as its big brother when you push it.
  • Who is it for? Those who want the Head Rebels cachet but not the demands of the RD.
  • Who is it not for? Not many! This ski can support a wide range of skills without biting back.
  • Insider tip: Don't listen to those who tell you Heads are all super stiff! But also don't think this ski is a real slalom tool like the RD.
Rossignol Hero Elite ST Ti
Dimensions: 122-68-104
Sizes offered: 157, 162, 167, 172
Radius:
Plate: KONECT
Binding (included): Look SPX 12 Dual WTR KONECT

Given the quantum leaps in performance Rossignol has made in recent years, this is a rather surprising ski in that it resembles much more the Rossi of old. Noticeably softer than most of the others in this group, the Hero ST Ti, along with the Elan, is the ski I would least like to take into gates. It does however make a very useable, short-turn carver that will support those trying to build their skills but who want to get earlier access to the performance offered by this genre of ski.
  • Who is it for? Lighter or less aggressive skiers who want to finesse short-radius turns.
  • Who is it not for? Those looking for higher-end slalom performance.
  • Insider tip: Better options are out there if you don't fit the "who is it for" category.
Völkl Racetiger Speedwall SL UVO
Dimensions: scaled
Radius:
Plate: Integrated
Binding (included): rMotion2 12.0 D Race, rMotion2 16.0 D Race

The Racetiger Speedwall carries the same UVO vibration damper as its FIS brother. It has the typical Völkl lively feel and edge grip and is happy to be pushed hard by a reasonably skilled pilot. The most surprising aspect of this one is that, while it has a fairly narrow waist at 68, it feels slightly sluggish edge to edge, without the lightning fast turn-in of the FIS version. Nonetheless, this may well be a benefit for progressing skiers who are a bit leery of superfast edge switches. This also lets it be skied at higher speeds than some of the others here, which the UVO must take some credit for.
  • Who is it for? The skier who could just as easily use a race ski but thinks they are getting a bit more flexibility this way.
  • Who is it not for? The more timid skier who is not prepared to really stand on the ski.
  • Insider tip: A good choice for Völkl fans.
Great job SS
 

Philpug

Notorious P.U.G.
Admin
Pugski Ski Tester
Joined
Nov 1, 2015
Posts
25,725
Location
Reno, eNVy
While these have the race ski appearance, it sounds like they are more pretenders than contenders on the race course. So, what are these good for? Skiers looking for a strong technical ski for hard snow fun who don't want to deal with the 100% concentration a true race ski requires. These are also great skis for instructors looking to get to that next PSIA level. For these skiers these are a great weapon of choice.
 

KevinF

Gathermeister-New England
Team Gathermeister
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
2,205
Location
New England
Regarding the references to "real" slalom skis killing unskilled pilots...

My trainer at the gym has often heard her students comment "OMG, we're going to die"... Her response is invariably "Don't worry, you pass out before you die".

:cool:
 
Thread Starter
TS
ScotsSkier

ScotsSkier

USSA Coach
Industry Insider
Pugski Ski Tester
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
2,323
Location
North Lake Tahoe, NV
While these have the race ski appearance, it sounds like they are more pretenders than contenders on the race course. So, what are these good for? Skiers looking for a strong technical ski for hard snow fun who don't want to deal with the 100% concentration a true race ski requires. These are also great skis for instructors looking to get to that next PSIA level. For these skiers these are a great weapon of choice.
You nailed it Phil, I couldn't have put it better. These make a great choice for hard snow fun, and the performance and quickness will be a revelation to those who have not experienced something sub 80 waist. They also make great tools for building technical skills. I should have taken my coaches hat off and stressed that in my original post. Every serious skier owes it to themselves to spend some time on skis like these!
 

Jilly

Lead Cougar
Skier
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
3,806
Location
Belleville, Ontario,/ Mont Tremblant, Quebec
Owner of the Rossi ST, but the Carbon. Can't bend the Ti. My other choice would have been the Blizzard SRC. Love these skis for our east coast groomers.

And thank you SS for your input and observations.
 

Levy1

Booting up
Skier
Joined
Nov 20, 2015
Posts
137
Location
Columbus Ohio
Owner of the Head Rebel SL. The demo was exiciting and so easy to ski I went with a 170 for free skiing the east.
 

Wendy

Trying not to face plant
Skier
Joined
Mar 13, 2016
Posts
1,827
Location
í mínum huga er ég í vestri
I have the Head iSL in a 155cm. Technical, but not a kill-me ski. Super-short turn radius at 155, which keeps me on my game. But, still stable as anything. Great for those short runs on the little hills around here.
 

James

So much better than a pro
Instructor
Joined
Dec 2, 2015
Posts
11,218
Great review SS. Got to love it when someone says for __ I don't recommend any of these.

Got lucky last May with the amazing sales around the Notheast. Picked up a new 165cm Fis Blizzard slalom. Amazing there's even one in stock let alone 1/2 off.

I skied that above Atomic 3.0 SL 165 ( well last years) in Switzerland. Yes, you can actually rent slalom skis. This was my second pair. The first, different "sl" ski had the worst tune I've ever skied. This Atomic turned out to be delaminating underfoot seen when I went to sharpen it. Whatever, not worth returning it for pair 3.

Fun ski. That deck is kind of nice- in "soft" snow it has something of a pogo stick effect. It worked nicely in the somewhat wind packed run under the Mon Fort tram at Verbier. Seen below.
image.jpg

That little square up there is the top of the Mont Fort tram. The Atomic 3.0 Sl did nicely there. Was it the best ski for that? Well I'd prefer the Fis... but I was quite happy with it.

( That little house above the lowest middle rock is one of the huts for the Haute Route. I talked to people in Colorado who'd stayed there).

In general, I prefer the directness of the full laminate Fis skis. Fis often have less sidecut believe it ir not. Around 13m for 165.
If not racing, these non Fis skis in a 170 instead of 165cm are a good idea for general skiing.

Using the Slalom as a cheater....
Abasin, May.
Morning on the fat...(well 95, 192cm)
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Afternoon, cheating on the fat ski (too much work), with the Slalom.
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Omg, I'm on an Fis slalom and going to die!
 
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Living Proof

We All Have The Truth
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Nov 9, 2015
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668
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Avalon - On The Way to Cape May
:hail: to @ScotsSkier for a very informative review of an entire class of skis that is hard to get good info about because so few use them.

My home mountain in Pa. is made for this type of ski, hard snow, groomed each night and skied for 14 hours per day. For many years, the original Head Supershape was my daily driver, replaced 2 years ago with a Fischer FIS Sl ski. Some observations about recreational skiers using Sl shaped skis.

Few use them in turn-shapes that approach Sl racing turns, the average turn is closer to GS radius. Even fewer have the technique to get hip-near-snow as seen in high level Sl skiing. They are just a blast to ski and feel the grip in a full carve. Speed limit is higher than the speeds I ski at, as long as they are kept on edge. They wander very quickly when skied at low edge angles. Be prepared if using them in tighter turns, it is physical workout. Becoming addictive to fast edge changes is a taste that once acquired is very hard to give up.

Contrary to the warnings that full FIS Sl skis can be overly demanding, my experience with the Fisher FIS Sl has been positive (note that SS states the Fisher FIS and WC ski very similar), it is very predictable and rock solid. I suspect that my inability to get serious edge angles, combined with slower, longer radius turns, takes much of the bite out of an FIS ski. @HeluaSkier I am not! By specs, I should be more attracted to the de-tuned Sl's reviewed here. At every demo day I attend, I try to get on models similar to those reviewed, but, few reps carry this style ski, so, demoing is not easy. So, the more or less energy put into a turn will have an impact when choosing between the two types.

Traditional reviews generally state that Sl skis have tails that want to grip, ie not release, and, typically warn that they are not fun in moguls for this reason. It may be a self-fulling prophesy, but, I don't like bump skiing with Sl type carvers, even though they are only 165 cm. Generally, I ski in 4 hours increments, if I want versatility, the Sl's remain in the trunk.

Who are are they for? Ice-coasters who like precise short radius turns. Think BMW 3 series.
Who are they not for? Those out for a full day and will ski in different terrains. Those who love high speed straight lineing. Think BMW 5 series.
 

Tom K.

HRPufnStf
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Joined
Dec 20, 2015
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3,163
To echo Phil: Thanks a ton @ScotsSkier for your perspective on some great technical skis.

I'm -- ahem -- bigger, at 6'2" and 195, and own the Heads at 165. I only use them for one thing, and they are great for this:

Making more turns at slower speeds than would be the case on GS skis when skiing with my wife at Sun Valley.

And they are astounding at this, especially on uncrowded mornings, when you can use that crazy tight radius to kind of "surf" the slopes, even letting the ski bring you around to a slight uphill perspective to control speed (though you gotta keep a REALLY sharp eye above you doing this -- people understandably do NOT expect it).
 

mike_m

Instructor
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Nov 13, 2015
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233
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Summit County, Colorado
GREAT reviews! Thank you! Everything you said matches up with my own experience. I picked up the Völkl Racetiger this season and it's been my go-to everyday ski for the early-season hardpack. Loves short turns but doesn't mind a GS turn thrown in. Firm, dependable, even flexing but not burly. Exactly as you described it. Thanks again!
 

extremecarver

At the base lodge
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Joined
Dec 17, 2016
Posts
4
great review - thanks.

BTW - I think the main difference is in the plates not the skis actually vs the FIS version. The plates are all too flimsy, too light, and just not adding any kind of vibration damping or stiffening of the mid section.

Put a Vist Worldcup Alu V14 or V16 on most of them - with a decent pair of binders - and they will get 80-90% of the way to the race stock SL. Especially on ice it's a huge game changer. Like changing from consumer 130 flex boots to a 130 flex plug boot (will also tremendously increase your level on icy slopes). In general I think for slalom - plug boot first, racing ski second. There is no reason to use a race stock slalom if you decide to stick with the mushy feeling of any consumer boot (at least without using a foamed liner). If you want to ski a slalom race stock ski, also do yourself the favor of putting on plugs. Else you're only getting a tiny improvement.


Review of tweener GS skis would be nice too (though now I already decided on one). They are also a great way to save money it seems. Much cheaper than Masters GS but according to some higher quality/more performance.
 
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Monique

bounceswoosh
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Nov 12, 2015
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10,415
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Colorado
Wow, just got to this thread - what a great write-up, @ScotsSkier .
 
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